The Times photo by Betsy Reason
Taylor Spice (middle), 16, a Noblesville High School sophomore, was named Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville’s Youth of the Year on Thursday during an annual recognition dinner. Club's Girl of the Year is Rayne Bannon, and the Club’s Boy of the Year is Titan Howell.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason Taylor Spice (middle), 16, a Noblesville High School sophomore, was named Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville’s Youth of the Year on Thursday during an annual recognition dinner. Club's Girl of the Year is Rayne Bannon, and the Club’s Boy of the Year is Titan Howell.

For Taylor Spice, the Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville has been a place of refuge, where she feels safe and where she can blossom to her fullest.
“The Boys & GIrls Club has had an enormous impact on me and the person I have become,” the 16-year-old told the audience, after being named the Club’s Youth of the Year on Thursday during an annual recognition dinner.

“During my five years at the Club, I have grown and flourished … I was able to say goodbye to the girl who wasn’t motivated, lacked confidence and longed for a purpose,” the Noblesville High School sophomore said.

“I became the young woman who stands before you today: a compassionate leader, a diligent student and a compassionate individual in my community,” said Spice, who wore a print dress, black eyeglasses and braces.

She went on to share about her life before she came to the Boys & Girls Club.

“Before I found my Club family, I did not have a stable home life,” she said. “My parents moved from place to place often. Having divorced parents, I was pulled in two different directions, which led to my whole life being consumed by my parents’ actions. Feeling like I had no value and lacked self-confidence, my mind was occupied with what was going to happen at home.”

She often asked herself:  “Did I have to make dinner?” “Do we have food at the house?” “If I’m left alone, how will I contact my parents?”

At the time, she was 7 years old and the middle child in her family.

She said, “For me, making dinner and overseeing my siblings was my normal. It consumed my entire life. I was trying to develop myself while being told who I was. At times, it was difficult to have somebody to confide in. I was incredibly lonely and felt very insignificant….Until I started coming to the Club.”

Growing up near Chicago, her family moved to Noblesville when she was in fourth grade. She immediately joined the Boys & Girls Club here.

Spice said, “I found my sanctuary and the freedom to discover my own path. The Club provided me an outlet to be myself and choose what opportunities that interested me.”

She became got involved with as much Club programming as possible. “The group clubs gave me a level of engagement, sense of belonging and created a stable environment where I could be myself,” she said.

And she got involved with as many activities there as she could. That included cooking class and art. “I went to the art room. I’m not artistic, but I like to do art,” she said.

Spice went to the Club’s library to do her homework and for Power Hour because she loves to read.

“I got into anything that would accept me,” she said.

Spice loves the Club and has found her special place here. 

“I love the library. I love going up and reading. I also love Junior Staff and Torch Club. I love help out my community and talk to all of the members. It’s a bunch of fun,” she said.

Spice attributed the staff with helping her blossom. ‘They took the time to listen and encouraged the best of me.”

“Now it’s my opportunity to instill the youth with the same virtues I hold so dear. I am so honored to be named the Youth of the Year of the Club who made me the youth I am today.”

After the award presentation and her speech to the audience, she couldn’t stop smiling. She said, “I’m so thankful for this opportunity. I was so trying not to cry when I went up here.”

She is the daughter of Brian Spice and Carrie Spice. A middle child, she has three brothers, two stepbrothers and a stepsister. Her family didn’t attend the awards dinner. “I told them not to come; I was too nervous,” the teen said.

Spice will compete in May at the state level with other Boys & Girls Club Youths of the Year.

Youth of the Year is a Boys & Girls Clubs of America program that recognizes teens for outstanding contributions to a member’s family, school, community and Club, as well as personal challenges and obstacles overcome, said Abigail Stutesman, the club’s unit director and who presented the award.

Stutesman said the Spice was involved in just about every program and special event that the Club had to offer, including Torch Club, Smart Girls, Junior Staff and Cooking. 

“Through these clubs, our Youth of the Year showed selflessness, compassion, integrity, ownership, and most importantly leadership,” Stutesman said. “From Club member to now a Club employee, our youth of the year is the prime example of what we expect from our club members. She balances work, maintains academics, and respects family time all with an amazing amount of patience and grace.”

Stutesman said, “I know I can speak for all of the full-time staff here when I say we are amazed at how hard working this young lady is despite all that which she carries outside of here. We truly are inspired by her focus and determination….”

About a year and a half ago, when the teen was old enough, she became a staff member at the Club, where she knows every member’s name.
“I do,” Spice confessed. “I work at the front counter, so I see the parents, the kids and their bags. And I know all of them most of the time.” 

In school, Spice does well in her classes and is enrolled in chemistry honors and two math classes. She also does tutoring at the Club. She was among six members awarded at the recognition dinner for giving at least three hours of tutoring per week for the entire school year, and receives a $1,000 college scholarship from the Boys & Girls Club Ladies Auxiliary.

She has also been looking at colleges for the future. 

Any idea of a career choice? “I want to be a doctor, an engineer, a teacher and a social worker,” she said smiling. “I just want a job that helps people. I want to be the person who helps others out of the kindness of their heart.” 

Would she like to work at the Club after college? “I definitely could see me working here.”

What puts the biggest smile on her face?

“Being here,” she said.

GIRL, BOY OF THE YEAR

The Club’s Girl of the Year is Rayne Bannon, and the Club’s Boy of the Year is Titan Howell.

Rayne Bannon participates in Junior Staff, STEM classes, Smart Girls, Torch Club and many more Clubs. She is patient, helpful, trustworthy, responsible and always has a positive attitude. She is a role model member and contributes to the bettering of her Club by helping out where needed. She is often seen assisting staff or helping with younger members.

Titan Howell has matured into a role model member. He is active in the gym and games room and has participated in Torch Club, Junior Staff, Gardening, STEM classes and Boys to Men. He is respectful, helpful, and dependable. He is Club proud and works well with his fellow members.

ABOVE & BEYOND AWARD

Noblesville Sunrisers Kiwanis Club was awarded the Club’s Above & Beyond Award for members assistance with the Meals to Members program, financial support and sponsorships, preparing and serving concessions at the Club’s annual Cornhole tournament, and cooking and serving the annual fundraising Pancake Breakfast to benefit Club athletic programs. Kiwanis Club founder Bob Anderson and Jim Grabowski accepted the award for the club, which turned 43 this year and meets for breakfast.

-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com. Find a list of the Club’s award winners at www.news@thetimes24-7.com